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Shanghai's Slide Weighs on Asian Shares

Asian stock markets were mostly lower on Tuesday, as the Shanghai Composite Index's sharp slide dampened sentiment but the declines were capped by Alcoa's stronger-than-expected quarterly profit reported after the close of U.S. trade.

Chinese stocks fell as much as 2 percent on Tuesday, after Beijing said it would continue to rein in speculation in the country's red-hot property sector, weighing on shares throughout the region.

The key Shanghai Composite Index was last quoted down 1.5 percent at 2,454.0 points.

Among the actives, Poly Real Estate Group lost 2.6 percent to 11.55 yuan while Shenzhen-listed China Vanke fell 2.4 percent.

Japan's Nikkei average finished slightly lower, as the weakness in the Shanghai market prompted investors to pare riskier trades, though the fall was checked by hopes for U.S. earnings later in the day.

The benchmark Nikkei shed 0.1 percent or 10.88 points to 9,537.23 after earlier rising nearly 1 percent.

The broader Topix fell 0.4 percent to 854.39.

The Nikkei shed 0.4 percent the previous day, as market players said the government's election battering on Sunday had been largely priced in, although worries about policy deadlock could keep further advances in check.

Shares of blue-chip exporters pared gained, with Canon closing 0.2 percent higher, TDK Corp up 0.6 percent, and Tokyo Electron climbing 1.66 percent.

Fujifilm Holdings rose 2 percent to 2,759 yen after the Nikkei business daily said the company was likely to see quarterly operating profit of 40 billion yen ($450 million) as opposed to a loss of 2.7 billion yen for the same period last year, citing restructuring as well as expanding sales of flat-screen TVs, for which Fujifilm makes protective film.

But shares of Nissandeclined 1.5 percent to 645 yen, after Japan's No.3 car maker said
on Monday it would stop part of its production in Japan for three days, affecting 15,000 units, due to a delay in supplies from Hitachi. Hitachi slipped 0.6 percent to 347 yen.

Seoul's stocks trimmed earlier gains to end up 0.06 percent. Losses in tech and auto issues weighed but continued foreign buying lent support to the market.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) finished 1.03 points higher at 1,735.08.

Shares in Hynix Semiconductor declined 3.86 percent on concerns the memory chip sector's earnings growth may slow from the third quarter, analysts said.

JPMorgan said in a report dated July 12 that it expected the world's No.2 memory chip maker to report a record quarterly operating profit in the second quarter, but still foresaw earnings trending down later due to expected declining DRAM prices and demand.

Samsung Electronics, the world's No.1 memory chip maker, shed 0.75 percent.

POSCO lost 0.2 percent ahead of the world No. 3 steelmaker's quarterly results announcement, expected around 0630 GMT.

Shares in Ssangyong Motor retreated after the troubled automaker said on Tuesday the final bid deadline for the firm had been extended by three weeks to August 10 to help potential buyers spend more time on due diligence.

Australian stocks closed 0.7 percent lower, led down by miners, after modest early gains were eroded by a slide in U.S. stock index futures as caution reigned over prospects for the U.S. earnings season.

Investors have been nervously awaiting the U.S. second-quarter reporting season, with expectations building for strong results, which would help ease fears about slowing global growth.

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals slumped after saying Australia's watered down tax on mining profits favors multi-nationals and diversified commodity producers at the expense of smaller companies. The shares closed 4.5 percent lower at A$4.26.

Global miner Rio Tinto, due to report production results on Wednesday, lost 3.2 percent to A$66.55 as metals prices fell.

Energy Resources of Australia, 68 percent owned by Rio Tinto, fell 4.6 percent to A$14.05 after it reported a 44 percent drop in second quarter production and cut its full-year production guidance.

The S&P/ASX 200 index see-sawed either side of unchanged through the morning, but ended down 29.6 points to 4,380.3.

Taiwan stocks finished 0.5 percent lower, reversing early gains on falls in TSMC and Hon Hai Precision as investors awaited earnings reports from Intel and other U.S. firms to gauge the health of the global economy.

The fall in Chinese shares also helped pull the Taiwan market off its early highs.

The main TAIEX share index shed 42.13 points to 7,597.42, after having risen as much as 0.42 percent. It ended lower for a second straight session.

TSMC, the world's top contract chip maker, fell 0.3 percent.

Hon Hai, which counts Apple, Delland
Hewlett Packard among its outsource manufacturing clients,
slipped 0.8 percent.

The world's No.5 smartphone brand, HTC, closed 1.98 percent lower, after its shares jumped yesterday following the phone maker's share buyback plan.

Hong Kong stocks drifted, finding support from Alcoa's forecast for strong global demand. But gains were capped by caution ahead of China's GDP data, Agricultural Bank of China's trading debut and JP Morgan Chase's quarterly results, all expected on Thursday.

The benchmark Hang Seng index fell slightly, struggling to stretch its three-session winning streak to a fourth.

Chalco outperformed the broader market, rising 1.1 percent to HS$6.26, as its shares took their cue from Alcoa's better-than-expected quarterly numbers.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore's STI and Malaysia's KLCI made modest gains.